I get it: Love Jacked wants to Cute-Nap you with its plot about a woman who gets a complete stranger to pretend to be her fiancé, then make you an Emo-Hostage while you see how it turns out. Trouble is, the film feels like a second-rate ’90s rom-com that was given 20 years for inappropriate flirting, and only just made parole. You may want to bail.
Amber Stevens West stars as Maya, an artist who takes an impromptu, inspirational trip to Africa, meets a charming stranger, gets engaged – then finds him with another woman, calls it off, and hightails it home. The end? I wish.
Her hard-as-nails dad (Keith David) is expecting to meet and intimidate a prospective son-in-law, so she enlists a petty criminal (Shamier Anderson) to pose as “Mtumbie,” her betrothed.
Alfons Adetuyi directs from a script co-written by his brother Robert and Linda Eskeland, and I’d dearly like to know which of them crafted the dad-of-the-year line: “That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said since you reached puberty.”
Love Jacked hits all the pop-music montages and falling-in-love moments you’d expect, including the shortest wedding ceremony since the one in Spaceballs; one of those misunderstandings that would wrap up the movie if only someone would talk; and a twist I can only refer to as Deus Ex Africa. Also, the opening third of the movie is at least 30 per cent stock footage of planes landing, winding roads and establishing shots of cities. It’s pretty, but lacking in personality. And that’s not enough to build even a forced relationship with an audience.
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